While MV is a popular beach destination, there are times when, maybe, you’d like to do something else. And if you have kids, shopping and long lunches just isn’t going to cut it. Don’t worry there are lots of things happening. Looking at next week, for example, here are some of the things going on.
MV Skate Park has a drop-in program every morning where your kid can learn to perfect a number of cool moves (don’t ask us which, we’re way too old). The MV Sharks are in town part of the week and have clinics during the day and games at night. What about a farm tour. There are a bunch of farms that’ll show you around including Native Earth, Thimble Farm, Grey Barn and the Farm Istitute which also has educational programs and hayrides. Like music? There’s plenty of places to catch free live music including Concerts on the Lawn at the Edgartown Library, Music on the Court at the Vineyard Square Plaza, The Porch Series at the Harborview Hotel and the Dock Dance at Memorial Wharf. There’s a concert for young kids by the Pinkletinks (that’s what we call “peepers”-you know, the first frogs you hear as winter turns to spring) at the West Tisbury Library. Cinema, Cinema is a weekly kid-centric film event with face painting and other activities including a film screening outdoors. Happens at the Chilmark Community Center. The Island Theater Group will be presenting “Mary Poppins” live. And both the Edgartown and Aquinnah lighthouses offer tours daily.
There’s a ton more, but the ol’ carpal tunnel is kicking in. We get lots of ideas for things to do from the Vineyard Gazette Calendar section. For more info on the events above or to see what else is happening check them out.
One of the biggest obstacles for folks not choosing the Vineyard is not being able to get a car reservation. But there are a lot of different ways to get around the island without bringing your car. There are a number of car rental agencies here, ranging from mom-and-pop businesses to the big guys. Most a located near the major ports and airport. The Vineyard Transportation Agency (VTA) has a comprehensive bus network that will get you anywhere you need to go on the island. Their Edgartown hub is right around the corner from Edgartown Commons. If you are going up-island, you’ll need to transfer buses, but if you are staying in the Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven area, there frequent and simple bus routes to get you around.
There are moped rentals in Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs, but we would like to add a safety caveat here. Our roads are narrow and mopeds are slow-meaning that vehicles are going to try to pass and some do so in a very aggressive manner. Every year there are accidents with major injuries and deaths involving mopeds, so you’ll need to carefully consider if this is something you want to do. King moped rental agency in Oak Bluffs has added road-legal golf carts to their offerings. There are a limited number so you’ll need to get there early.
Bicycle rentals have exploded on the island. Did you know the first bike path in Massachusetts was built on the island? It’s the one that goes along State Beach. There are bike paths all the way from Vineyard Haven to South Beach in Edgartown and heading west all the way to West Tisbury. Bring your own or if you choose to rent, most rental businesses will drop bikes at the hotel along with helmets (required for children under 12) and locks.
We have taxis, Uber and Lyft (although there are not enough Uber/Lyft drivers to meet demand at busy times, so plan ahead). A great way to see the whole island and learn more about it is to take a guided tour. You can hop on a tour bus at the ferry terminals or charter your own tour van for a more personalized tour. Most guided tour companies also provide car services as well.
So don’t let the fact that you can’t get a car reservation keep you from coming to Edgartown Commons this summer!
There are all sorts of beaches here on Martha’s Vineyard that are open to the public beyond just State Beach, Inkwell/Pay and South Beach. On Chappy, East Beach is just over the infamous Dike Bridge. If you take the ferry to Chappy, the beach on the side facing the lighthouse is public. The town beach in Aquinnah-also open. Lobsterville beach in Aquinnah has a very limited number of parking spots open to the public, so you can go, but get there early. Menemsha beach at the mouth of the harbor is a favorite because you can walk over to one of the fish shacks and have them cook up a lobster for lunch. Big Rock Bite in Chilmark has a fitness component because you have to hike about a mile in and out. (Also, go at low tide as there isn’t much beach anymore at high tide). Great purple rocks there. Eastville beach by the drawbridge in Vineyard Haven is a local favorite. Marinelli beach in Oak bluffs is on the mouth of the Oak Bluffs Harbor just beyond the East Chop Beach Club. In Edgartown, you can walk from Edgartown Commons to Fuller Street/Lighthouse beach. Just ask us for direction. Drive out towards the airport and you’ll see signs for Longpoint Beach on the left just after the airport entrance. Another with limited parking so get there early. Some of these beaches charge for parking so bring your wallet.
What to Do at the End of June
There are couple of activities this week and next set to align with the heavens. First, Featherstone’s in Oak Bluffs is having a Solstice Celebration with music and Poetry on Wednesday, June 20 at 6 pm. It’s a great way to mark the longest day of the year. June 28th is the full moon and Felix Neck will be offering their Moonlight Kayak Paddle on Senge Pond, which is a great way to watch the full moon rise. They’re off Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in Edgartown.
On a totally different note, ever wonder the history behind the many sites you see in downtown Edgartown? Find out more about our storied town by taking a guided tour or an audio tour. Martha’ Vineyard Tour Guide has group tours throughout the summer or you can contact them to get their audio tour and visit at your own pace. Check them out here.
Lot of things to do here in the coming months. Some are listed in previous posts so be sure to scroll down to see the full picture.
There are those who only look at a car engine when that little light goes on. For some like that, we open the hood, realize we have no idea what we are looking at, close it and head to the mechanic. No fun. There are others who not only know what each part does, but who look at engines-especially old ones- for enjoyment. If that’s you, get yourself to the Vineyard for the Car-B-Q Classic on June 17, especially if you have a car you want to show off. The event features a procession from Bend in the Road Beach through Edgartown followed by a car show and barbecue at the Harborview Hotel. There will be prizes and professional photo of your car with the entry fee. Starts at 10 am. To enter your car, call 508-627-4311 x112. Fee is only $35.
How Do I Get to the Bridge?
Okay, trick question. You don’t . There’s no tunnel either. We post this info because we realize that not everyone is familiar with the ferries that service the island and which is best for them.
If you want to bring a vehicle over, there is only one ferry company that brings vehicles-The Steamship Authority. They’ve been in the news lately because of mechanical failures this year. It seems that they have worked most of the kinks out, so have no fear! One thing that will be ongoing, however, and might cause some minor delays is work to the terminal and docks in Woods Hole. This should only provide minor inconvenience.
Please note that vehicle reservations sell out very fast with most of the key weekend dates already booked. Our advice is to put yourself on the waiting list. People often have good luck with this. Also, more reservations are released 7 days prior to the sailing date, so get up early and start calling at 7 am 7 days prior to your trip.
If you can’t get your vehicle over on the date you want, you might try booking the next day and leaving it in a Steamship parking lot. You’ll need to head back to Woods hole to get it and it’ll take some time to execute, but if you have to have your car here, it’s a solid plan b.
You can also take the Steamship if you are not bringing a car. They run the most boats out of any ferry line and have early/late boats. You can park in one of their lots (look for signs on highway) and take a shuttle bus to the dock. PLEASE NOTE-they do not operate a fast ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. Over the winter when they were having issues with their boats, they hired a fast ferry to get people on and off the island. That was a temporary arrangement.
You might consider renting a car here. There are lots of vehicle rental outlets you can check out. Go to the Chamber of Commerce site for more info.
If you aren’t bringing a car, there are many ferries you can take.
The Falmouth Edgartown Ferry is the only ferry that comes to Edgartown. It leaves from the same harbor as the Island Queein in Falmouth, but on the other side, closer to the harbor entrance. They require you make a reservation. It unloads at Memorial Wharf-about a 5-10 minute walk from Edgartown Commons.
The Island Queen is the other Falmouth ferry and docks inside the Oak Bluffs Harbor.
The Seastreak is a fast ferry service out of New Bedford and goes to the Steamship dock in Oak Bluffs. This boat requires reservations.
The Hyline is a fast ferry that operates out of Hyannis. This is an option if you are already on the Cape. If you are coming from anywhere else, you’ll travel an hour out of your way to get this ferry as Hyannis is about half-way up the arm of the cape. They are the only ferry service that operates between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. This ferry has a dock in the Oak Bluffs harbor near Coop d’Ville’s restaurant
The Rhode Island Fast Ferry leaves Quonset Point in the biggest little state in the union and docks at the Island Queen dock in Oak Bluffs. You’ll need reservations.
If you’re really in the mood for a sea adventure, there is a Seastreak fast ferry from NJ and NYC to the Vineyard on the weekends. Keep in mind, a fast ferry from so far away is still going to take a very long time to reach the Vineyard. We’ve asked folks who have taken it and there are some pro’s and cons. Pro: for folks living in Highlands NJ or near the 35th St. doc in Manhattan, you avoid traffic or travel time to the airport/train/bus or whatever method you would otherwise use. Cons: You may get seasick on this voyage as it is around 6 hours long. Also, it is prone to weather cancellations or stoppages. We had guests who had to board a bus in Connecticut because strong winds had moved in. If they cancel, they’ll get you back, but not on the boat. This ferry docks in Oak Bluffs.
Happening Week of May 27
Our little island is coming alive with more and more interesting things to do. On Tuesday, get a unique view of the rising full moon at the Felix Neck Moonrise Kayak Tour starting at 7 pm.
Johnny Hoy and The Bluefish are probably the island’s most popular band but a lot of their shows start around 10 pm. But during the warmer months, they offer their “early to bed” fans a chance to party with them at the Ritz with a show that starts at 7:30.
The Sharks are the Vineyard’s college farm baseball team who take on opponents from all over New England. They kick off their season at the “Shark Tank” (located behind the high school athletic field on Edgartown/Vineyard Haven Road) at 6:30 pm.
On Friday and Saturday nights you can get your dance on at a number of island restaurants and bars who feature live music and DJ’s. In Edgartown, check out the Wharf, Seafood Shanty, and the Atlantic. Oak Bluffs has the Ritz and the Lampost keeping the beat.
This weekend is all about hiking. On Saturday, the annual “Hike the Island” guided hike starts at Menemsha Beach. This guided hike will highlight the unique and changing features of the island’s topography. Once you’ve hung your sneakers up, head over to Featherstone’s for the exhibit “Trails MV” featuring photography taken on some of the island’s best trails.
Lots to do. Summer’s a’ comin’.
Explore Sengekontacket (say that 5 times fast) pond with a kayak from Felix Neck. This is a self-guided tour that points out the natural sites of the pond. It’s a great way to get out on the water and enjoy a “treasure hunt” of sorts. Happens every day, weather permitting. Felix Neck Sanctuary is off of Edgartown/Vineyard Haven road.
Concert Series Announces Performers
A few years ago, the Martha’s Vineyard Concert Series was born with a few events headlined by nationally known performers. It’s instant popularity has resulted in a big increase in the number of shows meaning island visitors and residents alike can catch some of the world’s best talents here during the summer months. This year features Robert Cray, David Bromberg, The Mavericks, Cowboy Junkies, Patty Griffin, Mavis Staples, Audra McDonald, Keb Mo and Paula Poundstone to name a few. To see the complete schedule click here.
Take a Hike
There’s a great new app coming out this summer that will feature hiking trails on the island. Called TrailsMV, it’ll be compatible with iphone and android. Click here to read more.
Mother’s Day Weekend on the Island
It’s Pink and Green Weekend in Edgartown. Sponsored by the Edgartown Board of Trade, there are sales galore in Edgartown shops. There’s a Mother’s Day brunch at the Harborview Hotel and a Minnesingers Concert at the Whaling Church. On Saturday, check out the Pink and Green dog event with pups decked out in their pink and green finest.
Described as part science fair, part craft show, the Mini Maker Faire is happening at the Agricultural Hall on Saturday. Inventors from across the island will showcase their cool and quirky inventions and share their insights with the crowd.
Just about every restaurant is open now. Check out some newbies! Carboard Box occupies the space held by Down Under in Oak Bluffs. Don’t let the name fool you, this place is nice. Chef Ben DeForest of the Red Cat is the owner and Chef. Raw 19 is technically not new, but it opened late in the season last year so if you came early, you didn’t get to check it out. It’s an oyster bar located on Church St. just around the corner. It’s getting rave reviews and opened this year in April, so put it on your list!
Happening This Weekend on MV
This weekend there’ll be lots of cyclists around as the MS Ride the Vineyard takes over our bike paths. Also this weekend, it’s the big Chili Festival which conveniently falls on Cinco de Mayo. It’s an all day event happening at the PA Club in Oak Bluffs. Lots of chili, beverages and music. The annual Trout Derby for Kids is happening Saturday morning at Duart’s Pond, located off Lambert’s Cove Road (look for the land bank signs). They Kentucky Derby is this weekend and you can pick up your hat at the Dream Hat pop-up shop at the Harborview Hotel. Speaking of which, if you want to try a Mint Julep, head over to Rosewater Market to sample on (trust us, they are yucky, but everyone should try one once in their lives) They’re located on South Water St. in Edgartown. Follow that up with the Kentucky Derby Party at the Harborview Hotel. (This is a upscale affair with folks dressing the part-so don’t forget that hat from the pop-up shop). Lots of music at the Ritz, lots of bowling at the barn and lots of dancing at the Lampost. There you have it, the weekend in a nutshell!
What Else Can We Do on MV?
Sure, there are the usual tourist things to do-beach, shop, restaurants-but there are lots of other activities visitors can partake in while here. Find your inner artist at a Featherstone class. This arts community offers lots of classes for adults and kids where you can express your creativity. Check them out here. Like to commune with nature? Try a hike. The has lots of hiking trails as does Sheriff’s Meadow. Do you play Pickleball or want to try this easier version of Tennis? They play right around the corner here at the Boys and Girls club. Learn more about the natural world at the Polly Hill Arboretum where they have regular tours and classes. If it’s Island critters that float your boat, check them out at Felix Neck. For more ideas, check out the Caledar at mvgazette.com.
We know, it’s been a terrible March and April. But good weather is coming. It’s meterologically impossible that it doesn’t. We need you use a little imagination and picture yourself on the island, enjoying a beautiful May getaway. And there’s lots to do. The weekend of May 11, for example, is Pink and Green Weekend. There’s lots of shopping, a dog show, a 5K and “Fairyland” at Donoroma’s (a must for the kids). May 19 is the MV Marathon and Half-Marathon ( we can’t even run around the block!). And of course there’s the Chili Fest listed below. Join us mid-week and check out all the shops and restaurants on the island without fighting the crowds. There are lots of specials during the week in May so it’s a great time to come down. Speaking of which, you can stay with us and get a great mid-week rate! Call our front desk to learn more at 508-627-4671.
MVY Chili Fest
As mentioned in the post below, the MVY Chili Festival will be held on May 5. This event used to be held in January (and it was big) but the powers that be decided we shouldn’t hog this great event for ourselves. So now it’s happening in May so our visitors can check it out too. It’s happening all day at the PA Club (also known as the Portugese American Club) in Oak Bluffs. There’s a wide assortment of chili from restaurants and regular folks all vying for the “Best” title. There’s also music and refreshing adult beverages, so it’s an all around fun event. And (stand by for not-so-subtle-plug) if you’d like to attend, just so happens we’re open, so you can book a room and make a weekend of it. (See, that didn’t hurt.) The event supports Friends of MVY (public radio) and the Red Stocking Fund which provides gifts to underprivledged kids during the holidays.
There are a lot of great fundraising events here on the Vineyard and the season kicks off May 5 with Bike MS: Ride the Vineyard. Want to participate? All you need to do is raise a minumum of $250 and sign up by clicking here. Start times for the ride are staggered according to ferry arrival times. But why not make a weekend of it and grab yourself a room right here at Edgartown Commons (see how we did that?). You’ll be the first to check out all the new shops and restaurants as well as see some old favorites. Or, after you’re done riding, check out the Annual Chili Fest happening at the PA club in Oak Bluffs. This event used to be held over the winter and it is huge. Lots of great Chili to try and vote on. In the evening, there’s music at the Ritz and Lampost in Oak Bluffs as well as at the Wharf in Edgartown. Or let em roll at The Barn Bowl and Bistro. And who know…maybe it’ll warm up enough for a walk along the beach.
Today we add Back Yard Tacos (right around the corner) and the Lookout to the list of newly re-opened restaurants. With a little effort, perhaps we can be first in line for a delicious taco. Stay tuned….
Our little sleepy island is coming back to life. We have a few more restaurants to choose from these days. The Atlantic down by the Edgartown Harbor opened this past Sunday as did 19 Raw Oyster Bar on Church St. Don’t recognize that name? They were under construction most of last summer. But check them out this year if you did oysters. Nightlife also picked up when the Lampost in Oak Bluffs opened, offering another venue for dancing and music.
Down Under in Oak Bluffs will be no more. Instead, “Cardboard Box” will take it’s place with Chef Ben DeForest of the Red Cat overseeing the kitchen. They’ve also removed the boards over the windows on Circuit Ave that made it look like a dungeon (who thought that was a good idea?). Tin Hanger in the old “Hot Tin Roof” space by the airport is no more. The owners will be doing a major renovation of the building to allow several businesses to open there.
Among the Flowers will open on April 14. The Dairy Queen opens tomorrow. Black Sheep opened recently. All this means that by the time we open in May, they’ll have worked the kinks out and will be ready for our visitors!
Sail Away…Or Not.
The Steamship Authority once used the tagline “Lifeline to the Islands” and that’s true. They bring our food, fuel, mail, materials-basically everything we need. So when they go out of service, it’s a bit of an inconvenience. It happens more than you think this time of year, mostly due to weather. We’re used to it-just part of living here. But recently, the only 2 large vessel boats were pulled because of mechanical issues AT THE SAME TIME for days. This is not business as usual. This time of year, the ferries are routinely pulled for planned mechanical work, which is where the Island Home is now. The Martha’s Vineyard was pulled this fall for a major rehaul (they even redid the inside with new seating, usb chargers at every seat and an new galley) and just came back. It all started after the recent storms moved sandbars around and the Woods Hole was grounded. Since then it has had sporadic mechanical issues that take it out for several days at a time. When the Martha’s Vineyard came back, it started having issues as well. With all new technology and issues with some of the work that was done, it also has been pulled on occasion for several days. When those days have overlapped-yikes!
Only one freighter has been working most of the last week. That means food, mail, building materials, merchandise for stores has been delayed-sometimes for days. Supermarket trucks pull up with food that has already rotted. Some of the shops that typically open this time of year have had to delay opening because they have nothing to sell. Building projects have stopped. The Steamship hired the Seastreak to help with passenger transportation, but those needing to bring cars back and forth have been out of luck.
Tomorrow the Island Home returns and the Martha’s Vineyard is back, so we hope they have all the kinks worked out. The Steamship Authority has been so reliable for so long, we residents never even give it a second thought. It’s a good reminder that we depend on them, and to be prepared with some emergency canned goods in the pantry!
Vote for Edgartown Commons “Best of the Vineyard”
Every summer, Martha’s Vineyard Magazine annnounces their “Best of the Vineyard” awards. It’s a huge deal on the island. You’ve probably seen the colorful “Best of” certificates hanging in various island businesses when you visit. Voting occurs from July through April 1 giving visitors and islanders the chance to let folks know who they think are exceeding expectations in each category. Last year, we were the runner-up in the “Budget-Friendly” category. We have a very real shot at taking home the crown this summer.
Over the past several years, we’ve been making improvements to Edgartown Commons to ensure guests get the best value for their money when they stay with us. As you may be aware, all of our units are individually owned and we’ve been working with those owners to make improvements that benefit our guests. We’ve also been working on infrastructure issues that, while not glamourous, will ensure the basic necessities you’d expect are not an issue for any guest. We take pride in the fact that our rates are competitive and give working families a chance to enjoy everything that makes Martha’s Vineyard special. If you agree, would you take a minute and vote for us? Voting closes on Monday, April 1. Click here, go to lodging and then “Budget-Friendly.” A sincere thank you from all of us.
Rising From our Winter Slumber….
Okay, sure, there’s at least one more Nor’easter on our doorstep (55 mph winds-child’s play at this point!), but the island is slowing starting to come alive. Not that there’s nothing going on during the winter (scroll down), but some of our warm weather friends are starting to open their shops which makes us smile.
Linda Jean’s in Oak Bluffs is back with one of the best breakfasts on the island. Murdicks Fudge will soon be pouring the chocolate in Edgartown. The Dairy Queen used to open for St. Patrick’s day but new owners are opting to open next week instead. (Island kids pretty much consider this their own holiday). Chilmark Chocolates will be open to help fill our Easter baskets, then close again for a couple of months. Starting in early April, many restaurants will open their doors to start working out the kinks before the full tourist season. We’re looking forward to seeing our old friends again.
More About What We Do When the Tourists Go Home
A few years ago, an organization called Pathway Arts was formed by Marianne Goldberg as a way for local artist, writers, actors, dancers, musicians and other talented folks to feature share their work during the hum-drum months of winter. The idea was genious. The entire experience is free and is supported through donations. There’s an amazing sense of community at these events with total strangers introducing themselves to each other and artist interacting with attendees. In the early years, Marianne, would create appetizers and deserts that were passed through the audience as the artists making it feel more like you were gathered in someone’s home. This simple idea of creating a communial experience has taken off and Pathways now holds several events a week as well as workshops where creatives can collaborate. Sadly, Marianne passed away a few years ago but we’re sure she is smiling down on the little arts collaborative she created. Upcoming events include an “Alternate Strings Night” featuring string instruments that aren’t guitars, “We Dance” starts with performances by professional dancers followed by a DJ dance party and a poetry reading for established poets followed by a poetry open mic.
How About That Nor’easter
We’ve got lots of inquiries about how we survived. We are extremely fortunate to have next to no damage here at Edgartown Commons. A couple of fences need repair-which is extremely lucky. The island itself did a lot better than many costal communities in Massachusetts. The northeastern part of the island is actually 10-20 feet above the ocean, which helped keep the flooding to a minimum. We also know where that flooding is going to happen, so the buildings hit are built with that in mind. That being said, it was crazy and we saw flooding in placed that haven’t flooded in 25 years. We knew we were in trouble when the flooding started on Friday 3 hours before high tide. (We still have storm surge issues-3 days later) Dock Street in Edgartown was under water. New York Ave in Oak Bluffs was closed in front of the harbor because of giant waves crashing over the bulkhead IN THE HARBOR! Beach Road in Vineyard Haven was closed the entire length. And a crazy amount of trees came down.
These photos are around high tide on Saturday-a day later. Check out the photo of Edgartown harbor. All the docks are under water and so is the chappy ferry dock off in the distance. Thankfully we’re just having a “normal” stormy day here today. Crews are out cleaning up so by the time Spring rolls around, we’ll be just like a Service Master commercial and it’ll look “like it never happened.”
Helpful Hints for a Spring Getaway
The ol’ Lion and Lamb are waiting for their cue as February draws to a close which means it’s time to plan your Spring getaway to Martha’s Vineyard. Lodging is all set-you’ll stay with us, of course (wink, wink). But seriously, rates are extremely low for mid-week. But once you’re here, what can you do? Lots of the island’s favorite restaurants will be opening as spring approaches and there’s a great Facebook app to let you know who’ll be open and their hours. It’s called, appropriately, “What’s Open on Martha’s Vineyard.” They’ve already posted their 2018 list and will be adding to it as we get closer to “the season.” It’s also a great place to find out about special offers. Lots of places have off-season specials in the Spring and it’s a great way to try some great food without breaking the bank.
Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival treats summer visitors to great movies and events with their summer film series, but for those of us staring down the bleak cold and fog of late winter/early spring, MVFF throws us a lifeline in the form of a full-blown multi-day cinematic experience with their winter film festival. It’s standing room only at the Chilmark Community Center where the event is headquartered for a myrid of films, which will include “Chappaquiddick,” the new movie about the Kennedy accident back in the 60’s. The festival will also feature special guests, workshops, dinners, music and programs for children. This will be their 18th year and tickets sell out quickly. The event will be held March 15-18 and the lineup will be announced in early March.
Never Stop Learning
People are always asking for new and different activities they can do on the island. Like most cities and towns, MV has an adult education organization that can fit the bill and is something that most visitors don’t know about. ACE MV started a few years ago with a few classes and has expanded in a short time to now include professional certification and accreditted college courses. Why should you care? Well, there are also a lot of fun courses as well that are offered during the summer. They include discussions with authors, art instruction, water sports and cooking (they just offered a Valentine’s Cookie Baking Course-yum!). They also offer personal development, financial planning and physical fitness. One-time classes are a great way to do something fun when you’re here on vacation. Keep an eye on their website for listings here.
Mark Your Calendars
We love that our friends at Morning Glory Farm have complied a list of key event dates for 2018-(mostly because we can just link to it instead of doing it ourselves). Check them out and then give us a call to make a reservation!
“No Weenies” The 20 Miler
There are no shortages of races or athletic events on Martha’s Vineyard, but this one is unofficially the most bad-ass. The 20 Miler happens here every February in some of the toughest weather conditions a runner might see. Below freezing temperatures? Sure. Pelting ice? You bet. Icy artic ocean winds? Absolutely. This race goes out of its way to ensure that all the conditions runners hate are in full force. Oh, and on top of that, there’s that whole 20 mile thing. For most people who just read this, the natural next thought is “Who the hell would want to do that?” Well, last year 500 intrepid (or unbalanced-make your own judgement here) runners participated. In fact, the race regularly sells out. It starts at the Steamship terminal and hugs the waterfront all the way from Vineyard Haven to Edgartown where warm ocean breezes gently greet each runner. Oops sorry-strike that. I meant to say “where bone-chilling polar wind blasts attempt to topple you over while freezing exposed skin, all the while causing you to question your ability to make rational decisions for yourself.” It then heads to the State forest before turning back east, ending at the Oak Bluffs School where runners are provided with clam chowder, entertainment,warm showers and Congressional Medals of Freedom for having the tenacity to finish this race (last part-not true, but should be). Think you’re tuff enough? This year’s 20 Miler is happening Saturday, Feb 17 and it’s looking like the weather will be dry with temps in the upper 20’s. If I haven’t lost you yet and you really think this sounds like fun, Check it out here.
Seafood in Winter?? Yes!
While the bass and blues have migrated south, the Vineyard’s fisheries are still active, providing us with delicious bounty. October marks the start of the bay scallop season. Bay scallops are found in Northeast ocean ponds and are much smaller and sweeter than their ocean counterparts. It’s a hit or miss fishery that’s hard to predict. In some years, the ponds are teeming with them while the next can see them all but disappear. And that will differ from pond to pond. This is a good year for scallops on the Vineyard and we expect the season to last into March. Fun fact-scallops can’t be harvested when the temperature dips below 28 degrees because they freeze and die.
Another winter shellfish we adore is the oyster. The southern ponds on the island are where you’ll find the best wild oysters. But we have a lot of oyster “farmers” who grow some of the best tasting oysters around. Oysters taste best this time of year and are nice and plump. This weekend, we’ll be celebrating the winter oyster at “Romancing the Oyster”-a tasting cocktail party at the Harborview Hotel. They’ll be serving oysters from half a dozen MV farms prepared a number of different ways. Fun fact-Oysters can live to be 100 years old.
“So What’s It Like To Live There in Winter”
We get this one all the time when taking reservations over the winter. Folks have a curiosity about life here as if it were dramatically different than the rest of the country, which makes us chuckle. After all, it’s not like we’re homesteading on the Aluetian islands. The Steamship still runs all day, the electricity stays on (as does the cable tv), supermarkets are fully stocked and many restaurants/shops are open all year. It’s similar to most small towns except we can only drive a maximum of 23 miles in one direction before we have to turn around.
There’s an HGTV show about moving to an island and has featured MV a few times. When going to commercial, they offer up a little trivia about the island they are featuring. According to them, in winter, MV islanders like to whale watch and go pond skating. Clearly the person who gave them that info was punking them. Watching paint dry would be a more productive use of time here since whale sighting from shore are extremely rare. And pond skaters better be wearing a speedo. We generally don’t have the long periods of freezing weather that would make that sport possible.
So what do we do? We are great entertainers. Dinner parties and pot lucks give us a chance to catch up with friends we might not see when the ‘season’ rolls around. The Barn is packed all week long with league bowling. Since they’ve opened, we’ve cultivated some pretty great bowlers. There are phenominal restaurant deals that are well worth braving the cold winter winds for. Hiking in the woods provides a different experience in winter as views open up once the leaves are gone. We go to the gym and participate in sports both familiar and unique (fencing anyone?). And since most of us are working non-stop over the summer, winter sees many of us vacationing in warmer climates.
As you can see, we’re not so different. In fact, most people will who live here will tell you they enjoy the slower pace of Vineyard winters. And while island living has its share of inconveniences, (like finding a normal pair of socks to purchase-seriously!) you rarely hear a resident say they’d rather live anywhere else.
A woman making a reservation last year seemed to be surprised that people actually stay here over the winter. With 6 towns and 15,000 year-round residents, we can confirm that they do not roll up the sidewalks after Columbus day! So what do we do here? Lots of things. The biggest activity is construction. With the summer crowds gone, repairs and remodeling take center stage and that’s true at Edgartown Commons. This year we replaced the hot water boiler in the Schoolhouse building, put new shingling on units 19-21 and a new roof on the Pool restroom/unit 36 building. Lots of owners are doing improvements to their units as well. It’s all part of our multi-year plan to ensure our guests have a wonderful experience while staying with us.